“It was a real pleasure to play the C. Bechstein D 282, an instrument that stands out for its warm and harmonious voice. I greatly appreciated its rich nuances and wide dynamic range.”
Leon Gurvitch is a pianist, composer, conductor and bandleader. The pieces he plays and composes are rooted in classical music, Russian folklore and klezmer, not to mention oriental and Latin American music. Gurvitch was born in Minsk in 1979. The son of a pianist, he learned to play the violin, the piano and the oboe at a very young age before training to be a conductor and completing his studies at Hamburg University of Music and Theatre. In 2001, he founded the Leon Gurvitch Project, a versatile group of outstanding musicians that has performed highly successfully at numerous international festivals, including the Leverkusener Jazztagen, the Yuri-Bashmet-Festival, the Jazzfestival des NDR (Hamburg), Jazzahead (Bremen) and KlezMORE (Vienna), as well as in Amsterdam, Prague, Łódź and Wrocław.
A composer of film scores, including for Death Game by Menahem Golan (Oscar 2001), Gurvitch has been teaching at the Johannes Brahms Conservatory in Hamburg since 2004. In 2011, he conducted the premiere of Les Enfants Terribles, an opera by Philipp Glass. He has also worked for the Hamburgische Staatsoper, the NDR Sinfonieorchester and legendary stage director Peter Zadek. In 2013, he composed Erotic Fantasy Based on the Poems of Daniil Charms, which was performed by soloists and the ensemble of the Hamburgische Staatsoper. Eldorado, the first album in the series Leon Gurvitch Project feat. Frank London, was released in 2010 and won a Grammy the very same year. Again on the label Morgenland, Gurvitch released a solo album entitled Remember Me in 2014. Finally, in March 2015, the Leon Gurvitch Project performed at the NDR jazz festival held in Hamburg.
In recent years, Gurvitch has given concerts in various countries (Switzerland, Finland, Russia, the United States, the Czech Republic etc.), while his compositions have been performed all over the world (Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, Laeiszhalle in Hamburg and Cité des Arts in Paris). In the spring of 2015, he embarked on a solo tour of the USA. The same year, his piece 5 Dances in Old Style was performed several times against the backdrop of the festival Classic for Peace, including at the Bundestag in Berlin by the Frankfurt Kammerphilharmonie.
Having penned over 300 compositions, Gurvitch was awarded the Goldene Chanukkia prize in Berlin in 2006 and nominated in the Musician of the Year category in the 2015 HANS–Hamburger Musikpreis. In 2016, he was the artist-in-residence at the David Oppenheim Music Center/Stella Adler Studio of Acting, New York City.
Leon Gurvitch has lived in Hamburg since 2001.
Photo: © Werner Gritzbach